Katydid loses her ballast keel, but what about her wooden one?

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Fife-built Clyde 17/19 lugger Katydid loses her iron ballast keel

I love restorations. The restorer never knows quite what he or she is going to come up against, and along the way they generally find all sorts of interesting things. An example in this case is a keel bolt in such sad condition that I wonder whether it contributed anything at all to keeping the keel attached the last time this boat went sailing.

Restorers are also obliged to make all sorts of decisions as they go along. Right now, Charlie Hussey is having to decide whether Katydid’s 115-year old wooden keel can be repaired, or whether it needs to be replaced. He’s even asked us to look at the photos and throw in our tuppences…

See Charlie’s weblog here: http://www.marinecarpentry.com/katydid/

Well, I let him have my guess, even though I’ve no idea what hundred-plus- year-old timber looks like when it’s bad compared to when it’s still ok. I think I’ve heard that an electrolysis process makes it look quite strange quite some time before it actually becomes weak, but what do I know? Perhaps Charley will give us his decision in a day or two.

PS – I’ve just noticed that intheboatshed.net is now two years old, almost to the day. It’s been quite a ride, and some would say something of an obsession. Still, it has also been fun, and satisfying too. The sharp-eyed will know that we’ve recorded almost 320,000 hits in that time, and some may even have spotted that only today we’ve scored a new record for traffic on this site, thanks to our dear friends at Duckworksmagazine highlighting the Julie skiff project.

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John Welsford’s new Pilgrim 16ft open cruising boat design

It’s entirely a matter of coincidence, but John Welsford has also been weblogging the design of boat  – though his could hardly be different from my little skiff.

Pilgrim is a small seaworthy open cruising boat light enough to be managed by one person on the beach, but fitted with removable ballast. It has a rounded and balanced hull form that allows it to heel without wanting to turn – in that way, it’s more like a yacht than modern dinghy, even if it is dinghy-sized.

(For those who don’t immediately understand this last point, I should explain that the now conventional sailing dinghy form that encourages planing when sailing usually also makes a boat that pulls round into the wind when heeled. Yachts however are generally designed to remain easy to steer as they heel, because there’s usually no way of ensuring they can be sailed flat – some obvious exceptions are high-tech boats with moveable ballast and heavy keels that swing sideways such as Mini-Transats and Open 60s.)

John’s project is interesting not least because I can’t recall anything recent that’s quite like it, but also, I think, because its rounded hull bears at least a little resemblance to the beach fishing boats that have been used on the South Coast of England for generations, and I’d guess that at least some of John’s design criteria have something in common with the needs of the crews of those little boats – which one might say was a matter of convergent evolution.  Notice the cute bowsprit designed to maximise the rig area to match the powerful hull, and the long shallow keel that becomes deeper the further aft you go. The rather misleading name for this feature is ‘drag’, by the way, but don’t let that confuse you.

I do hope John himself doesn’t think I’m talking complete nonsense!

I wonder what the members of the Uk’s dinghy cruising movement will think about it? My only concern is that I think rowing it will be hard work – but with a big rig, perhaps that won’t be necessary very often in John’s sailing area.

Click here to follow the Pilgrim project’s progress.

Boats of the Humber Estuary

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Humber dusters – click on the image for more

The Humber blobber – click on the image for more

The striking Paull shrimper – click on the image for more

Some intriguing gems this morning from Goole on the Web. I grew up on the southern side of the Humber Estuary, and I’m always interested in the bits of information about the area’s boats that occasionally come my way.

The Goole on the Web folks have put up a series of pages on each of several important boat types, including the Humber duster,  the blobber, the Paull shrimper and the Humber trawler, as well as the better known billyboy, Humber keel and Humber sloop.

I can’t begin to guess why some of them have such intriguingly unfamiliar names!

It seems the area also had crab boats borrowed from Cromer on the Norfolk coast, and of course its own packet boats.

If the Hull-type duster looks familiar, this might be the reason! I gather the maritime museum in Hull has an example of a duster, by the way, but can find no pictures on the web, which seems a shame – I think both the duster and blobber have potential as the basis of modern-day small cruising boats.

PS The musuem at Hull has interesting links to pages and pictures of the ancient Ferriby boats, the Hasholme boat, and the impressive and even older Brigg log boat.

PPS – I’ve just learned that the illustrations that Goole on the Web have put up are likely to be the work of George Holmes, which would make sense. I’ll add more later when I know more, but in the meantime here are some samples of his artistic work from the Albert Strange Association weblog.

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